Friday, June 3, 2016

Why Do Cardinal Kasper & His Followers Hate Vatican II?

I apologize for the lack of activity. My health and occupation have not allowed for a lot of blogging (or anything else for that matter), but I felt the need to get back in the saddle for this particular issue.

So by now, there’s been tons of fallout from the Synods and Amoris Laetitia and the near-infinite number of interpretations that have been applied to both. I’m not going to get into those so much, as there has been plenty of ink and metaphorical blood spilled by the relevant parties already. Besides, this is another one of those cases where the Catholic teaching is actually quite simple and known to be unchangeable. That being the case, I’m not that worried about it all, though I wouldn’t want to be a priest in these times.

No, what I want to talk about is an undiagnosed malady that helps form the root of these problems and pretty much every one of the attacks on basic moral theology in our time. 

When Cardinal Kasper and his disciples talk about ideals in the moral life and how heroic it is for any Catholic to live out the Church’s teachings in their day-to-day situations, what they are actually saying is:

“We hate Vatican II.”

Now this might come as a surprise to many, but even a minimalist review of the Council, it’s aftermath, and the current crisis in morality will demonstrate its truth.

Consider, for a moment, the catch-all phrase that is used to describe the Council’s legacy. Whether it’s EWTN or the ramblings of Cardinal Mahony, the Council is said to have brought to the Church the idea of the “universal call to holiness.” For the remainder of this discussion, let’s ignore the oft-repeated slander against our forerunners in Faith that laity were never instructed on such a thing prior to Vatican II.

Instead, let us focus on the Council itself, like when Lumen Gentium says:

The Lord Jesus, the divine Teacher and Model of all perfection, preached holiness of life to each and everyone of His disciples of every condition. He Himself stands as the author and consumator of this holiness of life: "Be you therefore perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect". Indeed He sent the Holy Spirit upon all men that He might move them inwardly to love God with their whole heart and their whole soul, with all their mind and all their strength and that they might love each other as Christ loves them. The followers of Christ are called by God, not because of their works, but according to His own purpose and grace. They are justified in the Lord Jesus, because in the baptism of faith they truly become sons of God and sharers in the divine nature. In this way they are really made holy. Then too, by God's gift, they must hold on to and complete in their lives this holiness they have received. They are warned by the Apostle to live "as becomes saints", and to put on "as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, patience", and to possess the fruit of the Spirit in holiness. Since truly we all offend in many things we all need God's mercies continually and we all must daily pray: "Forgive us our debts"

Thus it is evident to everyone, that all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity; by this holiness as such a more human manner of living is promoted in this earthly society. In order that the faithful may reach this perfection, they must use their strength accordingly as they have received it, as a gift from Christ. They must follow in His footsteps and conform themselves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things. They must devote themselves with all their being to the glory of God and the service of their neighbor. In this way, the holiness of the People of God will grow into an abundant harvest of good, as is admirably shown by the life of so many saints in Church history.When it says these things, or when subsequent writers focus on this overarching message of the Council, it is done in contrast to the thinking that only those in the priestly or religious vocations are called to and can aspire to true holiness. It is magnifying the obligation of the laity to strive for sainthood.

When we look at the theories propounded by Cardinal Kasper and his cohorts, we find a rejection of this. Rather than a call to holiness, we find a call to comfort. Holiness, as spoken of in Kasperite lingo, is an “ideal” and one that is good but hardly necessary to enjoy God’s favor. In reading Cardinal Kasper’s views, there is almost a quasi-Lutheran core wherein he seems to insist that holiness really doesn’t exist. We are instead broken people who, by virtue of God’s mercy, are given a free pass for our behaviors. This is because holiness is admittedly difficult, and God, by His mercy, would not want to have His children enduring anything difficult. Holiness, then, can and should be discarded in appreciation of mercy.

What then of the “universal call”? Is it not an absurdity? If holiness is only meant for that rare heroic Christian, how can there be any sort of “universal call” to it? In more practical terms, of what true value is holiness at all if it can be so easily dispensed? You can extrapolate these into innumerable similar questions, but the problem is clear.

The consequences of all this doubt about holiness are very sad. First, we run the risk of substituting license for penitence. After all, if we can assume the safety of our salvation without regard to our individual actions, why not “sin boldly” (to use Luther’s phrasing)? Second, those grasping after holiness are insulted as being Pharisaical, with the implication being that such efforts are not just irrelevant, but also harmful, perhaps even to the point of being per se hypocritical. On a side note, this makes for interesting discussion in light of Exsurge Domine #6.

I could go on, but again, you get my drift. You can’t have a universal call to holiness if the terms of holiness are limited to the uncommon, the ideal, and the heroic. It’s precisely because we are broken that we need God’s grace to overcome our difficulties and be more like Him. Otherwise, the “central message” of Vatican II is a sick joke, played upon the wounded of the world to deceive them into thinking that His grace is sufficient for them.


Anonymous said...

Your last sentence, is it saying that his grace is sufficient to overcome obstacles in our path towards holiness, or that it's sufficient for salvation? Do you think it is important to overcome obstacles in holiness for the sake of our salvation, or is it more important to put in the effort, or is it more important to believe that the blood of Christ is enough to forgive us our sins? I could be presenting a false dichotomy in the last three questions. I'm not asking to stir controversy or start an argument, I'm sincerely struggling with this myself :( Thanks!

Throwback said...

On your first question, the answer is both. Without grace, we can't even have faith, much less be saved.

I think it's important to overcome obstacles in holiness, but it isn't necessary. After all, "He chastises those He loves." However it is possible to be saved without obstacles if you consider the deaths of baptized infants or children who haven't faced any such thing but pass away before they can be culpable for mortal sin.

On your last question, I think it's a both/and type of situation. Faith is the supernatural ability to believe what God has revealed to us because He can neither deceive nor be deceived. There may be some or even constant struggle in that area, but such struggles should be accepted with humility and acquiescence to God's will. God often allows us to experience spiritual dryness to draw us closer to himself after all. Part of all this is that belief in the saving power of Our Lord's Passion and Resurrection. If that's not part of the equation then why bother with the struggle, etc. at all?